Energetic cleansing: smudging & how to make your own sage stick

Why do we need to cleanse our energy? At a fundamental level, we can feel the energy around us. Unless we are aware of how to protect our energy, we subconsciously begin to take on energy from the people and situations around us. At times, we might also feel stuck in our own low energy. In the same way we strive to keep ourselves and our spaces clean, it is equally important to strive for energetic cleanliness. This means taking account of the energy that you emit into the world. As brain scientist Jill Bolte said:

You are responsible for the energy you bring into this space.

Which also means, you have the power to change it. As I wrote in How to be a More Conscious Traveler, it is so important to take responsibility for your energy in a new place. Smudging is a potent way to reset the energy around you and begin again, and a smudge stick will even fit in your carry-on.

How is smudging done? First, we acknowledge + remove negative energies from ourselves and our environment. Then, we infuse intention to purify. Tradition teaches us to smudge slowly, making clockwise circular movements around ourselves, our spaces and our loved ones as we say an intention aloud or to ourselves. I’ve included an intention you can use and modify for yourself at the end of this post. There are many different tools you can use to smudge, including palo santo, cedar, sweet grass, copal, tobacco and more. Each has its own use. Sage is especially good for cleansing heavier or darker energy, but it is also used to purify energy before ceremonies or rituals like doing yoga or setting intentions.

Where does it come from? This tradition was passed down from my Native American ancestors. Native Americans incorporated all of the elements in their smudging ritual: herbs to represent the sacred earth, burning it to represent fire, spreading the smoke with a feather to represent air  while calling on the energy of the bird which was revered for its ability to soar to great heights, and holding the sage in an abalone shell to represent water. It is important to be aware of calling in all of these elements while you smudge.

Consider giving back to the source of this tradition. Here are links to donate to tribes I belong to: The Choctaw Nation and Partnerships with Native Americans

There is something intrinsically powerful about making something with your own hands. Sure, you could buy/order a sage stick but when you make it yourself, you can infuse energy into the whole process.

So, here’s a simple guide on how you can make your own sage stick:

You will need:

  • Fresh sage or other herbs
  • Scissors
  • String (I used hemp)

1. Gather sage, herbs and dried flowers that grow around your neighborhood. Try different kinds like pine and cedar wood (I like to add lavender). Lay them out to dry for a day. You can surround them with crystals to infuse healing energy right away.



2. Assemble the herbs together in a bunch going the same direction, with the stems facing downward. If you have dried flowers, you may want to add them last so they show.



3. Beginning at the bottom, leave 3-4″ of string hanging as you begin to wrap the other end diagonally upwards. You may need to tuck in pieces of the sage as you go. I insert the lavender stems after I wind up the first side of string. When you reach the top, begin to work your way back down, getting as much of the leaves within the string as you can.


4. Tie a knot at the bottom to keep the wrap tight. Cut the second end to match the first and make a small knot at the end of the two to hang the sage. Let the sage hang to dry for about five days then cut the bottom knot and tie the ends in a bow if you like. Voila! You have created your own sage to incorporate into your ritual routine.


Here is a sample intention you can say aloud / to yourself while you use your sage stick:

I cleanse my energy and the energy around me. I release all energy that is not serving my highest good. Only energy that supports my well-being is welcome here.

I cleanse my mind that I may have positive thoughts, I cleanse my mouth that I may speak intentionally and in truth, I cleanse my heart that I may feel its yearning clearly, I cleanse my hands that I may create great things, I cleanse my feet that they walk sacredly and softly on this Earth and take me where I most need to go and I cleanse my eyes that I may see the signs and the wonder of this human experience. 

May I and this space be cleansed by the smoke of these sacred plants and may my intentions be carried away and spread with the smoke. 

And so it is.

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